Strength 101: The Basic Rules of Training by Joe Hashey

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There is Science and Research in the post!  I know you want more than just fluff like a lot of other training sites.
If you hate science, there is a summary at the bottom!


Often we talk about certain exercises on Synergy, but it is important to understand the WHY not just the HOW.
The golden rule, or better the golden law of training is adapting to physical demands.
Adaption, defined by Zatsiorsky  “In the broad sense it means the adjustment of an organism to its environment.  If the environment chances, the organism changes to better survive the new conditions.  In biology, adaption is considered one of the main features of living species.”
Right after a workout do you feel stronger or weaker?  If you did it right, chances are the fatigue has made you feel weaker.  So why does doing this repeatidly yeild a stronger person?  Adaption to the increased training loads.
There are 4 primary features of adaption that are important to real world and sport training.

  1. Overload
  2. Accommodation
  3. Specificity
  4. Individualization


The training load – the weight used – must be heavier than what the person uses on a regular basis.  After adaption due to overload occurs in a new athlete, the gains will be lost within 7-10 days if that person stops the exercise.

Arnold Schwarzenegger powerlifting deadlifts bottom technique Strength 101: The Basic Rule Of Training

This principle changes in well trained athletes.  If you workout all the time for years (the right ways), expect to see your gains diminish within 3-5 days if exercise is halted.  Does this mean your squat will drop from 500 to 100 lbs?  No way, but it will diminish.


If the same training load is used for an extended period of time, the body accommodates to the movement and the gains decrease.
===>If you are skimming TUNE BACK IN!
Most of you probably don’t know this, but I also teach high school Economics, and this principle is referred to as the Law of Diminishing Returns.  Here is the lesson I use in the classroom to make sure the student’s get this concept.
I have a student come up to the front of the classroom and eat a Reese’s PB Cup and rank it on a scale of 1 to 10 on how tasty it was.  Then I pull another one out and repeat.  Eat, rank, repeat.  The student’s eyes always get big when I pull out 20 of them and tell him/her we will be continuing for awhile.

Peanut Butter Cup2 Strength 101: The Basic Rule Of Training

Usually after the 5th one, the student likes them less and less.  Same goes for training.  If you repeat the same load over and over, the gains will diminish.
Due to accommodation, it is extremely inefficient to use the same training program over a length of time.
Here is the difficult part, an good training program will be both variable, to avoid accommodation, andstable to satisfy the demand for specificity.


This refers to the distinct adaptations that come from a training program.  These adaptations are LIMITED TO the physiological systems trained – ie the muscles, aerobic abilities, etc that are used during training.
And important part of specificity is to decide which exercise improvements will equal the best gains for your goals – such as which exercises is best for real world strength, or football, or basketball, etc.

img 0445 300x225 Strength 101: The Basic Rule Of Training

Leg extensions will improve your ability to perform leg extensions.  Now, do leg extensions improve your ability to sprint if you are a football player?  No. 


People are different.  An exercise program for one athlete may give different results when used by two different people.  I’ll quote Zatsiorsky again as he stated something I’ve been saying for years:
“Innumerable attempts to mimic the training routines of gamous athletes have proven unsuccessful.”

bodylastics Strength 101: The Basic Rule Of Training

That is why any good training program will allow for variation.  In the Bull Strength Program, there is a specific template, but different exercises to choose from once you find out what works best for you.  No program should be written in stone.
===>However general principles and concepts will remain the same in good workout programs!


Every person strength trains to acheive certain adaptations.  Strength training will yeild results through the person’s body accomdating to being overloaded (loaded greater than normal daily activities).  If you bench more than you normally lift, then you will get better at the bench press.

ibeampullups 300x225 Strength 101: The Basic Rule Of Training

After performing the same training program, your body will get used to the movement and adapt to that specific training loads.  It is important to include variety AFTER getting goals from the program.

==> Conclusion. 

Don’t throw out the concepts behind a successful training program, individualize and change it for your needs.  Apply the concepts above and get your GAINS!
– Joe Hashey, CSCS –
Joe Hashey is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and owner of Synergy Athletics, found on the web at Joe has authored the Bull Strength Manual, Bull Strength Conditioning, and is a sought after speaker at strength and conditioning seminars. He is currently giving away three cool BONUSES with the Synergy Athletics Newsletter – check it out and get on board!


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